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Nov 14, 2019 - CWA Launches New Programs for Veterans

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New Report Exposes Performance Failures of MAXIMUS, Nation's Largest Medicaid Administrator

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This week, the Government Contractor Accountability Project (GCAP), a project of CWA and Change to Win, released a new report – Maximum Harm: MAXIMUS' Medicaid Management Failures – that documents significant problems with MAXIMUS' performance on Medicaid contracts across the country and points the way forward for better oversight.

CWA works with government-contracted employees to lift working standards and join together for a voice on the job. CWA is supporting customer service professionals at MAXIMUS' federally-contracted call centers who are organizing to improve their working conditions. These workers handle sensitive inquiries for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, but earn as little as $10.60 an hour.  

The report highlights a troubling series of performance failures by MAXIMUS, the largest provider of Medicaid administrative services, that have impeded vulnerable Americans from accessing the health services they need. The company has also been implicated in Medicaid fraud and performance problems that affected health care provider payments and the security of health system information. MAXIMUS serves as the Medicaid enrollment broker for 22 states and the Medicaid eligibility contractor for 13 states, and serves 70% of the Medicaid Managed Care population nationally.

"The American public and state officials deserve to know about states’ experiences of contracting with companies that have a record of performance failures on critical government health contracts,” said Jody Calemine, Chief of Staff for CWA. "We believe government contractors need to act responsibly toward both the public and their employees."

Read the report here.

CWA Complaint Leads to Raise and Back Pay for Customer Service Representatives from Federal Contractor

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With assistance from CWA, 40 current and former employees will receive a raise and back pay from a Lionel Henderson call center in Hyattsville, Md., which serves as a FEMA National Flood Insurance Program subcontractor. Latoya Williams, a former Lionel Henderson employee who raised concerns about her pay to CWA and to the press, will receive $1,296.70. 

Williams was glad to have had the opportunity to stand for something very important not just for herself, but also for her coworkers and those who will come after. "It was one of the best feelings knowing I stood up for us to be treated fairly. I might have given up if I didn't know that CWA had my back, and that meant so much to me."

Since 2016, CWA has filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that Lionel Henderson violated the Service Contract Act, a federal prevailing wage law that applies to CSRs and other workers who provide services to the federal government. The Department found that Lionel Henderson misclassified these CSRs to pay them less and, between its two investigations, recovered over $100,000 in back pay for the workers. The company has also agreed to reclassify its employees going forward.

Agents Confront American Airlines CEO Doug Parker

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On October 24, a sea of CWA red shirts greeted American Airlines executives including CEO Doug Parker at the company's quarterly State of the Airline meeting in Fort Worth. Members of the CWA-IBT Association, including home-based reservations representatives (HBRs) and office-based agents, spoke out against plans to close the Reno Reservation center in March 2020 and move all HBRs into offices over the next two years. 

"It was important for us to be there and make our statements on behalf of our co-workers," said Renee de la Garza, Secretary of CWA Local 6001 in Dallas. "We asked Parker to look at the employees who are being affected and see how devastating the closures will be for our lives."

Later in October, representatives of the CWA-IBT Association met with Doug Parker and other executives to deliver powerful statements from employees. At that meeting, a union representative read a statement by Trish Muir, an American Airlines employee for 24 years, who is based in Tucson. In 2012, American closed the Tucson office and workers there became home-based. They took deep pay and benefits cuts. Many endured personal bankruptcies and left children and spouses behind to relocate. Executives told them, "consider yourselves lucky." 

Fast forward seven years. Trish described what it was like when HBRs got notice of the program's termination earlier this year. "We get a 'Dear John' email from a woman we don't know..., many of us while actively speaking to passengers, with no more thought given to us than to a construction update in a terminal."

Since the October meetings, American Airlines Senior Vice President Kerry Philipovitch has agreed to continue to discuss the effects of the HBR changes on employees with the CWA-IBT Association.

A sea of CWA red shirts greeted American Airlines executives including CEO Doug Parker at the company's quarterly State of the Airline meeting in Fort Worth.

CWA Leaders Attend 2019 Minority Leadership Institute

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Thirteen CWA leaders participated in the 2019 Minority Leadership Institute last week. The week-long residential program focused on leadership development in the labor movement, with participants learning how to use storytelling as a tool for effective organizing; developing essential skills needed in bargaining, handling grievances, and arbitration; and honing social justice and political advocacy skills. Participants also learned how they can use online communications and social media to organize.

The MLI program was established 30 years ago as CWA's internal training program designed to promote the involvement of members of color, women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented members within CWA at every level of our union. One representative from each District and Sector attends each year. The program has been instrumental in developing phenomenal CWA leaders.

The MLI class also participated in a rally at the Philippines Embassy to free labor organizer Anne Krueger and to protest human rights abuses of union organizers in the Philippines.

CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton, CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings Jr., Public Sector Vice President Margaret Cook, Western Region At-Large CWA Executive Board Member Dante Harris, Telecommunications and Technologies Vice President Lisa Bolton, and CWA Assistant to the President Ameenah Salaam attended the graduation ceremony.

First row – Left to Right: Joaquin Chavez, Local 9119; Eric Chapman, Local 3808; Vernida McKoy, Local 2252; Mark Bautista, Local 9404.
Second Row – Left to Right: Marvin Wells, Local 7110; Kevonna Neely, Local 1133; Tarea Smith, Local 6143; Martin Monteblanco, Local 27019; Mariela Topete, Local 59051; Mericle Long Local 4501.
Third Row – Left to Right: Aaron Kelley, Local 32035; Tameka Rittenburg, Local 81455; Akeyia Johnson, Local 6507.

CWA Launches New Programs for Veterans

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On Veterans Day, CWA President Chris Shelton announced the CWA Veterans for Social Change program and a new National CWA Veterans Committee.

As part of the CWA Veterans for Social Change launch, CWA military veterans joined more than 40 veterans from across the country for an Organizing Institute in October in New York City hosted by the Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) and Common Defense, which is a veteran-led grassroots organization committed to engaging, training and mobilizing veterans to build power and promote progressive values.

The VOI provided training on the unique role of former service members in past and current people-powered social justice efforts; how to craft, deliver, and present resonant messages to multiple audiences and the news media; grassroots organizing; and political analysis.

"Just as our veterans are showing that they are CWA STRONG by fighting for our union values, CWA is making sure that our resources are supporting veterans and their families," said CWA President Chris Shelton in a statement. "A new National CWA Veterans Committee, representing each District and Sector, will make sure that veterans' issues are front and center in our political, legislative, human rights, and organizing agenda."

As part of the CWA Veterans for Social Change launch, CWA military veterans joined more than 40 veterans from across the country for an Organizing Institute in October in New York City to receive training hosted by the Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) and Common Defense, a veteran-led grassroots organization committed to engaging, training and mobilizing veterans to build power and promote progressive values.

Bargaining and Mobilization Update

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Hawaiian Airlines

This week, Hawaiian AFA-CWA Flight Attendants held weeklong pickets at HNL (Honolulu) and LAX (Los Angeles) airports to mark the company's 90th birthday and highlight their fight for a fair contract and benefits.



Workers joined together in the freezing cold before their shift to call for Altice to negotiate a fair first contract for 140 workers in Wappingers Falls and Westchester, N.Y. They have been bargaining for more than six months now. The main issue at the bargaining table is job security. The union is refusing to let the company treat their members as second class citizens – they want the same protections the Altice workers in Brooklyn, members of CWA Local 1109, have, and are willing to do whatever it takes to secure them.

Making CWA STRONG at New Flyer

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Members of CWA Local 7304 and allies held a CWA STRONG organizing blitz at New Flyer in Crookston, Minn., having one-on-one conversations with their coworkers to talk about how to get involved in their union and sign up activists to participate in future activities.

CWAers Protest Mass Arrests of Union Organizers in the Philippines

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CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens (left) addressed CWAers and other activist groups who rallied in D.C. against the arrest of union and progressive organizers in the Philippines. Those arrested included union organizer Anne Krueger, a strong friend and ally to CWA who hosted CWA members in her home when they visited during the 2016 Verizon strike. Thankfully, after 12 days of incarceration, Anne was temporarily freed. She still faces trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms following the mass arrests of unionists and activists in Bacolod City on Oct. 31.